Reporting Derek Valcourt
TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) –It was a scandalous hate crime caught on camera that grabbed national headlines. Now one of the two young women accused of beating a transgender woman at a McDonald’s learns her punishment.
Derek Valcourt has details on the sentencing.
Teonna Brown was convicted of a hate crime and first-degree assault. She will spend five years in prison.
Over and over again, two teenage girls attack and beat Chrissy Polis inside a Baltimore County McDonald’s until she goes into a seizure — all while a laughing McDonald’s employee records the vicious attack on his cell phone.
The YouTube video sparked community outrage and landed Brown, 19, and her 14-year-old accomplice in jail. Brown is now sentenced to five years in prison.
Polis, who is transgender, chose not to appear in court for the sentencing. But her hero Vicki Thoms was.
“I just wanted to make sure that justice was served,” Thoms said.
She can be seen in the video trying to stop the attack on Polis. She ending up punched in the eye herself.
“I thought she was going to die,” Thoms said.
In court, Brown tearfully offered remorse saying “I’m sorry. My mother did not raise me like this. I would really like to apologize to the victim, Miss Chrissy Polis.”
But that apology was not accepted, according to a letter Polis wrote to the judge.
“I felt like I was going to die that day,” the letter reads. “I continue to suffer seizures, bouts of crying, mental anguish and anxiety. I fear being alone. I have flashbacks about the attacks. I do not forgive them for what they did to me. “
Prosecutors say hate was clearly the motivation for the attack.
“I don’t really care who the victim is,” said Scott Shellenberger, Baltimore County State’s Attorney. “This wasn’t about a political statement. This was about prosecuting people for a heinous crime that they committed.”
“I just wish that there was more love in this world than hate,” Thoms said. “That’s what I keep saying every time you guys talk to me, and that’s what I hope she learns out of this whole thing, and everybody learns the same thing.”
The criminal case is over, but the civil case is just beginning. Polis is pursuing a claim against McDonald’s for failing to stop the beating and because it was its employee who video taped the incident while laughing about it. So far a settlement has not been reached.
The other suspect in the case already made an admission to the beating and remains locked up in juvenile detention.